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Public space, politics and survival strategies: Street vendors in urban India

Calendar Thursday, 27 February 2020
Calendar 13:00-14:00

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Discussing the central problem and struggle of a vendor’s utilisation of public space in Mumbai

The central problem and struggle of vendor’s precarious livelihood are around utilisation of public space. Drawing from primary data collected in Mumbai, it discusses how despite the absence of proper legal and institutional frameworks, vendors subsist by arranging adhoc alternatives, creating informal institutions and negotiating with formal and informal actors in the urban economy. A vendor exercises two kinds of bargaining with the space – economic and social. Individualism with rationality is practiced while economic bargaining to negotiate over rates of interest on credit and the rates of bribery. Social bargaining is exercised through collectivism to build social relations with actors such as customers, fellow vendors, and moneylenders.


Debdulal Saha is Assistant Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati Campus. Prior to joining TISS, he was post-doctoral fellow at University of Kassel, Germany. He is author of Informal Markets, Livelihood and Politics: Street Vendors in Urban India (Routledge, 2017), co-author of Financial Inclusion of the Marginalised: Street Vendors in Urban Economy (Springer, 2013) and co-editor of Employment and Labour Market in Northeast India (Routledge, 2018), Work, Institutions and Sustainable Livelihood (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). He was engaged in various research for various organisations such as United Nations Development Programme, International Center for Development and Decent Work, Oxfam Germany, Municipal Corporation for Greater Mumbai.


Public Space Observatory


Dr Nastaran Peimani
Dr Hesam Kamalipour

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